The Dissertation Mentor


What is a dissertation, and why is required to get a Ph.D.? It might help to take a step back and consider, what is a Ph.D.? This is a Doctor of Philosophy; it is a research degree, meaning that during the process of getting the degree you were trained as researcher. Your dissertation is therefore the demonstration of your ability to conduct research and to write professionally. It is considered the terminal (or highest) degree in your professional field. Receiving the degree places you in an elite group (less than 4% of the US population has a professional degree), and it is evidence of your professionalism and learning.

Why are you required to do research to show you are a professional? Conducting a research project shows your persistence and ability to complete a large project. It integrates all that you have learned in your education and shows that you can formulate new questions for future learning. Most degrees simply show learning; however, a PhD also shows your ability to go further and explore unknown areas, to develop research that answers questions. It shows that you are a logical and critical thinker; you can synthesize ideas, data and information, and write in a technical and professional manner. Being able to conduct research also shows that you are able to sift through information to find the current thinking in the field; as well as able to apply theory to your thinking, practice, investigations, and current events. The dissertation is considered the first step in your future research plan for the rest of your professional life. Will you have to stay in this topic area? No, but you will have the ability to plan and execute future studies.

At the completion of your project, you are assumed to be able to teach in your areas of expertise – both content and method at a college or university level. No licensure beyond the doctorate is required to teach in post-secondary institutions.

Is the dissertation "just another paper to write?" No, it really is much more than that; it is a very formalized document that demonstrates your expertise in your chosen area of interest. Once you have completed the project, you are considered an expert in this area. The paper will eventually be published in the dissertation databases, and will be a part of the professional literature. Other researchers and graduate students interested in your topic will read it in the future.

There are a number of implications of these issues. (a) Your literature review must be correct and as complete as possible, both to demonstrate your expertise and also for future researchers. (b) Your research methods must be as accurate and complete as possible, so others know exactly what you did in your study. Consider the future researcher who does a study similar to yours but gets different results. He or she will want to be able to compare the two samples and methods to determine why the difference occurred. (c) Your paper must be written in the format required for publication, and the formatting will be checked before you are allowed to defend the final draft. (d) This paper will follow you forever. Any future employer or colleague will be able to look up this document. (e) For many students, your dissertation will be your first published work. Think of it as your first child, yes, you will make mistakes, and when you look back at it years later, you will see things you should have done differently. For your future self, make it as elegant as possible and something of which you are and will be proud.

Next time I will look at being organized.  Do you have an issue or a question that you would like me to discuss in a future post? Would you like to be a guest writer? Send me your ideas! leann.stadtlander@waldenu.edu

Три - это простое число! - сказала Соши.  - Три - это простое число. Фонтейн пребывал в изумлении. - Неужели так .

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